The Woman, Susan Wojcicki

'Tosin Adeoti
3 min readFeb 20, 2023

Susan Wojcicki is one of my favourite business executives in the world.

She was initially the search engine’s first landlord when she rented her garage out to co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998.

She went on to become the company’s first marketing manager (and the company’s 16th employee) and helped to drive the development of AdSense, which transformed the web by enabling websites to make money through displaying Google ads.

She was so successful with AdSense that she was promoted to Google’s senior vice president of Advertising & Commerce. There, she oversaw the company’s advertising and analytic products, including AdWords, AdSense, DoubleClick, and Google Analytics.

Then, in 2006, she convinced the board to spend $1.65bn acquiring a startup called YouTube after noticing the company was outcompeting one of her units — Google Video.

If there is someone who may have made us understand the phrase “Content is King,” it has to be Susan. After she officially became CEO of YouTube in 2014, she decided to maintain the early focus on creators, keeping YouTube’s near 50:50 split of advertising revenue. This helped to ensure the platform always had the content that people wanted to watch, even if it sacrificed some earnings in the short term. By 2021, YouTube had paid more than $30 billion to creators, artists, and media companies.

This avalanche of content ultimately propelled YouTube to second place on the list of most visited websites. YouTube has more than 2.5 billion monthly users who collectively watch more than one billion hours of videos each day. As of May 2019, videos were being uploaded at a rate of more than 500 hours of content per minute.

This has in turn made YouTube financially successful. YouTube had $29.24 billion in revenue in 2022, making up 11.35 percent of Google’s total revenue.

Internet users regularly say the YouTube comment section is the sanest of all social media. This is thanks to Susan’s efforts in tightening hate speech and violent extremism. Check for yourself and you will see that unlike other social platforms, the YouTube algorithm prioritizes positive engaging comments.

An advocate of family values, she has five children with her husband, Dennis Troper, Google’s director of product management. No wonder she considers YouTube Kids one of her favorite products. She is often quoted talking about the importance of finding the balance between family and career.

“I’m not the kind of person who hangs out in the coffee area for an hour and has random conversations with people,” she says. “I like to be home for dinner with my kids, so I am ruthless about blocking my time.”

Today, Google is a friendly place for working parents: moms-to-be have special parking places, employees get 18 weeks of paid parental leave, and there are nursing rooms on site. But when Susan first started working at the company, she was four months pregnant and nobody at Google had ever taken parental leave. Now, she advocates for federally mandated, paid parental leave, which she hopes will increase the number of women participating in the workforce.

Late last week, she announced she’s stepping back from her role as the head of YouTube to focus on “family, health, and personal projects.”

It is the end of an era at one of the world’s most iconic online platforms.

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